Diving Back In, Getting Dirty...
Hi all! I've been out of the aquarium hobby for about five years, but I'm ready to start anew! Been doing my (re)research, and I've got a rudimentary plan laid out. Thought I'd write it out for the experts to take a look over, and hopefully give me some advice for better success.
First, my history. I started out fish keeping with a 10 g non-planted, and soon added a 30 g as MTS (multi-tank syndrome) set in. I started trying a planted tank with the 30 g, adding VERY easy plants (java moss, java fern, crypts). I had a single dual-bulb PC fixture, inert substrate, DIY CO2, OTB filter, and was only dosing liquid ferts, so my results were limited.
After I graduated and got an apartment back in my home town, I consolidated to a single 75 g, and went with AquariumPlants.com's substrate. I added a second PC fixture, stuck with OTB filters, continued with DIY CO2, and was still only dosing liquid ferts. I REALLY wanted a carpet plant to take hold, but never had any luck (I realized even at the time that my chances were low). Dwarf baby tears, dwarf hair grass, and micro sword wouldn't hold root, and ended up in a mess at the top of the tank. However, my crypts exploded, I added a sword that did fairly well, and I had some type of val that grew like a weed (which, admittedly, is basically what val's are).
Fast forward about a year, and I had kind've burned myself out on the tank upkeep. I was doing more frequent water changes and dosing than I needed to, though the tank was maintaining without any problems (sans algae, but it wasn't terrible). One weekend I decided it was more effort than enjoyment, bucketed all my critters (including over 300 red cherry shrimp that had started from a meager colony of 14), and took them all to my LFS for adoption.
I've now got a proper house, a better income (TOYS!!), and the itch has returned. I was thinking of just doing another 75 g (biggest glass tank I can buy locally), but I've now got myself talked into doing a 20 g long shrimp breeder as well.
The plan is to go MTS (mineralized top soil - add in that stupid snail, and this acronym really gets abused) on both (MGOCPM w/ laterite, dolomite, potash, and AZOMITE) with a cap of AquarimPlants.com's substrate, and maybe some inert gravel in places for scaping. When it becomes necessary, I'll dose with tabs and liquid (I've been reading a little on the EI method, but it's still over my head for now).
For lighting, I'm going with BeamsWork Evo Quads (3W), unless someone here manages to talk me into a Finnex P+ or R2. I'm going to start without CO2, but if the algae gets to be a big problem, I've got plenty of paintball tanks lying around, and I'll do a simple needle valve setup with those.
I'm using canister filters this time around, probably Hydors, and if not that then SunSuns (SunSun has way more of a reputation - more, not necessarily better - but for some reason I really like the Hydor models). I'll do Poret Foam with a mix of different Biohome medias in the baskets, and sponge filters on the intakes to keep from sucking up baby shrimps and as additional bacteria breeding ground.
I'm going to build my own stands. Being a bachelor, I only have to worry about function over form. I'm heavily considering building a shelf in front of the tanks as observation platforms for my kitties... Their reactions are half the reason I want to get back into the hobby. The stands will also have hinged hoods, mainly to protect the aquatics from any furry incursions.
Again, the 20 g will mainly be a breeder (I want to experiment with various shrimp foods), and I'll have some ottos and maybe barbs or tetras in there for bio load. The 75 g show fish are going to be angels (never kept them before - had gouramis previously), and I'll fill it out with swords, barbs, tetras, ottos and BN plecos. I had never heard of assassin snails until a few days ago, but they seem like the bees knees and a bag of chips as long as they don't give the shrimp too much grief.
For plants, I really want to do a carpet this time around. I'd love to do a mixture of foreground plants, and kind've zone the tanks off a little. I LOVE the look of Malaysian driftwood, and will try to attach moss and anubias to parts of it. For bigger stuff, I'll probably stick to dwarf sag and a couple crypts in the 20. It'll be the same in the 75, plus some swords, val, anachris, and wisteria. If I have good results, and eventually add CO2, I might try some of the trickier stuff like rotala and ludwigia.
SO, thanks for reading, and bring on those criticisms! I hope to start a tank journal thread once I get started on the stands!